free darko is doing something that I didn't think was possible: giving me reason to be interested in the NBA. Which, I suppose, does make some sense, despite my general hostility towards the NBA. I've long thought that basketball and soccer are remarkably similar sports. Yes, there are the obvious points of difference: the small, enclosed court vs. the large, open pitch, hands vs. feet, net vs. goal, goaltending as a foul vs. goaltending as a virtue necessitating the only the specialized position directly recognized in the laws of the game, lengthy timeouts which mock the official clock vs. the sport which accepts no delay of game.
But the similarities are more fundamental. The referee exerts a remarkable degree of sway over the outcome of the game, leading to the formulation of conspiracy theories plausible and implausible. Players simulate fouls and injuries to earn phantom decisions, infuriating many but praised by others for their gamesmanship. The artistic genius, the one who presides magiestrially over the chaos of the game, creating structure and order through both imagination and athletic prowess, is the most highly praised character, whether his name is James or Messi. Unlike, say, baseball (easily reduced to a series of individual moments which have clearly good and bad outcomes), basketball and soccer games turn on pivots that are invisible in realtime (except to those players with the instinctual intelligence required to discern the structure of the game as it is unfolding) and are remarkably difficult to quantify afterwards. Even in the more mundane characteristics, the structure of the sport as expressed by leagues, marketers, and cash flows, the two darkly mirror one another: in basketball, the world gradually is adopting a quintessentially American sport, with the best and most-expensively-paid players gravitating to a single American league, while soccer, the sport which most wholly belongs to the world rather than a single country, is growing in popularity in America, but the best players gravitate to a series of highly competitive, well-paid European leagues.
All that aside, my point is that, if you enjoy extremely sharp but slightly off-kilter writing and have even a modicum of interest in basketball, you ought to be reading free darko. Though if you fit that profile, you probably already are.Posted by eatingbark at June 22, 2009 2:41 PM